Memoirs of a Geek: Mario Kart Double Dash

Now unlike many middle-class late 90s early 2000s kids, I did not own any video game systems. There was the family PC and that was it. 

(The story behind that can be read here)

Instead, I mooched off of the consoles of friends and family. Luckily for me, my older cousins happened to have a GameCube with several Mario games. They were only a few years older than me and lived less than a half-hour car drive away. I visited them a lot. They became my second set of brothers. 

I’ll call the oldest Teach. He had always known he wanted to be a teacher. And that’s exactly what he did. He became a middle school teacher and he’s a principal now. I’ll call his brother Preach because he has a goal of entering seminary someday and becoming a pastor. Also, Teach and Preach rhyme and that will annoy them. Aren’t I such a good little sister?

When I was in late elementary (probably?) they were in middle school, they happened to get a new game, Mario Kart: Double Dash. They had already played it a little and they wanted to show me. Right from the start, I was completely hooked on Double Dash. 

The gameplay was good of course, but that’s not what kept me playing. It was competitiveness, pure and simple. I was having fun, but I wanted to win. Preach was as competitive as I was. He was not going to sit back and make it easy for me. 

Practically every time I went over to their place I was playing Mario Kart. I had to get good and I didn’t have the advantage of owning the game. So I practiced whenever I could. Eventually, it got to the point when playing against each other I could hold my own against both boys. 

At this point, Teach stopped caring about our competition. He was fine with playing the game for fun with others around his skill level. He didn’t care about being the “best”. Preach, on the other hand, absolutely wanted to keep his position as the top Double Dash player. He played the game sporadically to keep up his skills. He was the one to hold most (if not all) of the records. Preach wanted every single trophy to have his initials. 

Thus our competition went to the next level. Instead of individual races, we measured victory by who has the most trophies with their initials. We both would play various tracks over and over again to get the highest score and the best time. Whenever we took away the other’s trophies we made it a point to show them in a “Haha! In your face!” kind of way. 

Eventually, our shared obsession over Double Dash petered out. We never officially ended our competition. It’s more like we got distracted with other things and forgot about it. Funny enough, despite how important the competition was to us for a few months I don’t remember who ended up winning. If I’m honest it was probably Preach. He owned the system and spent more time playing than I did. 

The Mario Kart Double Dash competition became one of my favorite memories with them. Fittingly, over a decade later, when my husband and I visited my childhood home the spring after our wedding, Preach gave me his old GameCube and all the games for it. I still have it and use it today. 

*Image does not belong to me. Mario Kart Double Dash belongs to Nintendo

Memoirs of a Geek: It Takes Two

If you haven’t heard of it, It Takes Two is an exclusively two-player game. My husband, Shaggy, and I are currently playing through the PS5 version of the game. We are most likely halfway through. I haven’t looked up any walkthroughs or spoilers so it’s only a guess. When we finish the game I’ll probably do a complete review of the game. For now, I wanted to write about two of the funniest moments in our playthrough. 

The story of the game is unique. You and a partner play as Cody and May, a married couple on the verge of a divorce. Their daughter Rose is understandably very upset at this and ends up wishing that her parents would “become friends again” (she’s little and doesn’t understand how marriage works yet) while tears fall onto dolls she made. For unexplained reasons, this causes the souls of both of her parents to possess the dolls. Now stuck as tiny dolls in a strange version of their home, Cody and May are forced to work together to find Rose and undo what happened. 

Gameplay-wise, it’s a pretty straightforward 3D platformer with simple controls for movement and jumping. Throughout the game, you acquire and lose various tools along the way. This keeps the gameplay varied in each stage. Each player relies on the other to use their skills to get past challenges and enemies. 

I’m playing as May. At one point in the game, she gets a hammer. One of the things I had to use it for was breaking glass bottles to clear our path. There was a bunch of them in one section. So I was gleefully swinging away, smashing everything, when I accidentally hit Shaggy. At first, I was mildly worried I accidentally killed him. 

Then his character, flat on the ground said this, “Just because it can’t kill me doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt May!”

“It was an accident!” – May

“Sure, it was…” Cody sarcastically muttered. 

We both laughed at it a little. I did tell Shaggy that I did not actually mean to hit him. He knew that and said that dialog had made it worth it. Naturally, I agreed, the dialog was funny and it made hitting him that much more fun.

The other memorable moment from our playthrough was when I freaked out Shaggy. At the time, he had a gun with three nails. He used this to shoot nails into the wall so I could swing off of them and to shoot platforms to keep them in place. During one of these sections, I had to jump my way through while Shaggy was pinning platforms in place. We got to one and as soon as we realized which platform he would have to shoot, I said “Okay” and wall-jumped off. He was not prepared for me to do that so fast. At the last possible moment, Shaggy got the platform in place just before I fell to my certain death. 

As soon as I landed on the platform Shaggy told me, “Geez, that was a freaking trust fall! Just believed I was going to make it in time huh?”

I told him, “What? I knew you would get it.” I was right he did. But I did say sorry for the short notice. 

It probably would have been funny to watch that happen. I mean, I was pretty amused at his reaction. Still, it made me feel happy that he caught me, especially since he framed it in the way he did. Looks like I picked the right person to play It Takes Two with. Perhaps it is a little silly, but that successful trust fall did give me the warm fuzzies for a few minutes. That was one of those moments where I thought, “Yeah, I married the right person.”

*Image does not belong to me. It belongs to the developers of It Takes Two.

Memoirs of a Geek: Nancy Drew Games

Out of all the games I played as a kid, Nancy Drew games were the most challenging ones. Not because of the gameplay challenges, no it was those gosh dang puzzles. Sometimes the puzzles and minigames would be fairly straightforward. It might take a few tries before I got it, but it was usually possible to solve the puzzle or beat the game. 

However, it seemed like in every Nancy Drew game I played at some point I would eventually reach the Nope Wall. Now the Nope Wall had different forms in each game. It was puzzle minigames that I could not beat or figure out no matter how many times I attempted it. Other times it was the simple problem of not knowing how to progress the story. On the rare occasion, it was even dying repeatedly due to my own stupidity or the blatant unfairness of the game. 

I’m not here to tell you about how hard these games could get or how ragey I could get while playing. I’ll save that for a Petty Review. Instead today, I’ll tell you about the one and only time I encountered The Nope Wall while playing one of these games and I got past it. After many attempts, I had finally beaten a Nancy Drew game!

My Nancy Drew phase was during late elementary/young middle school. At the time I wasn’t as patient as I am now. Though, even now describing myself as patient seems too generous. Still, I was definitely worse as a kid. I was, however, very stubborn. That stubbornness is what made me able to beat the game.  

The one I completed was Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek. It’s been so many years but I remember those two puzzles in particular that made me almost quit the game. The first one was basically Minesweeper on ice. Naturally, if you got it wrong you would fall through the ice and die. It took many (so many) attempts before I got it right. Each time I failed it reset the locations of the thin ice so I actually had to take my time and not make hasty decisions. 

The second puzzle that almost made me quit I don’t remember as well. It was a puzzle about connecting pipes (I think). Unlike the first, it was not randomly generated. For whatever reason, I had a hard time figuring it out. Eventually, it got to a point when I was finally willing to sacrifice my pride and look up a walkthrough. Which naturally, having the answers in front of me made the puzzle pretty easy. 

Beating the game was one of the most euphoric victories. Not only did I beat the game, but I had also finally succeeded at beating one of the games in the Nancy Drew series. The White Wolf of Icicle Creek was the fourth game in this series that I played. It took me four games before I finally beat one. More than the momentary victory, this was the first game I beat using a walkthrough. It made me realize that while I don’t like resorting to walkthroughs, there’s nothing wrong with using them. The most important part of playing video games is that you enjoy them. There’s no right or wrong way to play a game.

*Image does not belong to me, it belongs to Her Interactive.

Memoirs of a Geek: Gaming with Dad

My dad does not care about video games at all. It’s not something he enjoys. He’s not interested in any of my nerd hobbies. Which is okay. Anime, video games, cartoons, sci-fi/fantasy movies/tv, Dungeons & Dragons, and things like these aren’t for everyone. 

That’s why I always remember the first and last time Dad ever played video games with me. I was a lot younger, probably around 5th grade or so, when I was playing The Emperor’s New Groove, the video game on PC. The Emperor’s New Groove game is the video game version of the movie. It was one of my favorite games as a kid. The humor is top-notch, just like the movie. 

Unfortunately, there was one super hard level. *Spoilers for a scene in a movie everyone should have seen by now* In The Emperor’s New Groove, there is a scene of Kuzco running for his life from a group of panthers eager to eat him. The video game version of this scene was stupid hard. To beat the level you had to constantly mash the spacebar to continually sprint while jumping and navigating around obstacles. For whatever reason, I could not manage furiously button mashing while controlling where I was going. I had tried to beat it so many times! I even tried changing the keyboard controls but nothing worked. 

After several rage quits and a couple of frustration cries, I had all but given up entirely. Until I realized that nowhere in the rules did it say that I had to do it alone. I couldn’t ask Mom for help, she pretty much hated all non-educational video games. My only option was Dad. He might not like video games, but at least he didn’t hate them. Still, I was a bit nervous to ask for help. I didn’t think he would actually do it. 

Dad proved me wrong. He listened while I explained the situation. Not that my explanation helped much, I’m pretty sure he was befuddled the entire time. Despite his lack of interest, he was willing to be the person to button mash while I did the harder part of navigating. It took us four or five tries to get it right, but we did it! With his help, I beat the level. After all that time, I spent trying to get past this to continue with the game I finally won! Dad didn’t understand why I was so excited but he told me he was glad he could help out. 

This was such a long time ago. Yet I still remember everything very clearly. I remember how frustrated I was trying and failing time and time again. I remember how awkward it was to ask Dad for help. Then finally I remember how happy I was to beat the level. Playing with him had been fun. For one moment I could finally participate in a hobby I loved with him. It was the only time we ever played video games together. He may not have cared about video games, but he helped me because I had asked. Most likely, Dad has forgotten all about this. To him, it was just one of many instances when his daughter asked for help with something, but to me, it was more than that. 

New Series! Memoirs of a Geek

Hello to everyone reading my blog, both followers and visitors! On Geek Aporia I happen to have an ongoing series called Petty Reviews. This series is my experiences with videos games, and other things, that have made me so upset I couldn’t finish them. I’ve been enjoying writing this as it is a healthy way to express rage. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed venting!

However I’ve come to realize that I wanted to write positive memories and experiences too. All of the fun random moments I still fondly remember no matter how much time has passed. In order to do this, I have decided to start a new series I am calling Memoirs of a Geek. The title is a bit dramatic. But hey, so am I! Expect to see posts of this series every other Wednesday, starting tomorrow.